When a beehive doesn’t turn out to be honey.

ME@ halban4

When one of my british friends passed on to me a pic of what seemed to be just an ordinary tent-sized man-made stone structure,  I quickly rung my mobilephone to ask him about what’s this intriguing photo is all about. The surprise answer was they are indeed tombs used in countries in ancient times  and Oman is interestingly one of them. True enough,Oman was home to a number of ancient beehive tombs that were only ‘discovered’ by the West twenty years ago, and are relatively unspoiled, The earliest stone-built tombs which can be called “beehive” are in Oman, built of stacked flat stones that exist in nearby geological formations. As gleaned from what I researched in brief about this tombs, they are believed to date back between 2700 and 2000 BC from the Umm al Nar or Hafit period of the Bronze Age at period in time when the Arabian Peninsula was subject to much more rainfall than now, and supported a flourishing civilization in what is now desert to the west of the mountain range along the Gulf of Oman. No burial remains have ever been retrieved from these “tombs,” though there seems no other purpose for the buildings.The tombs are communal burial chambers for one, two or more people and in terms of age are comparable to the oldest of the pyramids in Egypt. The tombs are situated on an elevated terrace of the Batinah coastal plain, which is believed to be a region of copper mining and trade with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley during this period.


Dating back to history, Messenia holds the record for the oldest beehive tomb discovery. Due probably to the large influence the Minoans had over the Aegean region at the time, the Minoan style of burial, the chamber tomb, had been the most frequent style used from about 1600 B.C.E. to 1100 B.C.E.,  After about 1500 B.C.E., beehive tombs became more widespread, suggesting to many archaeologists that the influence of the Minoans was in decline. From Messenia, the beehive tomb spread to other areas of Greece, particularly Argolid, Laconia, and Attica. Beehive tombs, are a monumental Late Bronze Age development of the Mycenaean civilization that eventually replaced the old style of chamber tombs. It was named such after the vaulted dome shape of the main burial chamber that resembles the shape of a beehive.The change in burial styles has been a significant development in archaeology for it signifies a shift in ancient Greek society. The beehive tomb required considerable effort to construct, and thus was only available to powerful leaders. The appearance of similar structures in different cultures is also of interest to social scientists, in some cases indicating the influence of one civilization over others, in other cases indicating the lack of sufficient common features, suggesting independent development of the structures. In all cases, however, the beehive tombs are a fascinating example of human creativity and desire to respect and honor those whose lives impacted their society.

Archaeological Significance

The way the people treat the dead at this ancient times gives some archaeologist reason to think and ponder about  the mentality of long gone civilizations. Developments in tomb structures usually correlate with developments in society. Hence, although the reason for the switch from chamber to beehive tombs remains in contention among archaeologists, there are nonetheless many who are in  agreement  due to social implications arising from the change. As beehive tombs became more popular in Greece, they began to become regulated to the highest class of citizens; only royalty and the highest non-royalty bureaucrats and their families were entombed in beehive structures.

ME@ halban4
Some of the earliest stone-built tombs which can be called “beehive” are in Oman, built of stacked flat stones that exist in nearby geological formations.
ME@ halban7
The beehive tombs are a fascinating example of human creativity and desire to respect and honor those whose lives impacted their society.
Here in this surprising assembly of friends at an archeological site that we chanced upon about 45 min ride plus 30 min hike to the actual tomb site.
ME@ halban2
The sundown gives a perfect backdrop of the astonishing beehive tomb structures that I so long planned to visit.
This sign rattles off a warning to would-be violators of this precious archeological site northwest of Muscat.
ME@ halban3
By the passing of time, the tombs gave off their original appearance.
ME@ Halban5
It did not take us long to reach the place that has a huge historical significance especially for archeoulogists or scientists but for us who were just touring the place we realized how significant as well our visit for we just saw a glimpse of the Late Bronze Age.
Geocaching had been one good avenue for me and my family and friends to get near to places of interests that we never imagined to be seeing in real time.

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